Spike hurried outside. He was sure had just glimpsed Rainbow Dash out the window. He had been wandering the castle, checking if Twilight was back yet from visiting Zecora, when he had caught a rainbow streak out of the corner of his eye. Still perplexed about Dash’s strange behavior that morning, Spike had run after her to try to get an explanation.
As he rushed down the castle’s front steps, Spike scanned the sky above. Only a vast expanse of emptiness greeted him. Puzzled, Spike continued to look around. Looking back over his shoulder, Spike thought he spotted something in the distance. That might have been Dash rapidly pushing a raincloud toward the horizon. Or was it? The speck was too far away too for him be certain—
Spike picked himself up off the ground. His claws squished in brown goop as he lifted himself upright. Muck covered his entire front, dulling the glisten of his previously pristine scales. And when he tried to take another step, Spike found that his legs were resolutely stuck in the mud puddle he had obliviously wandered into.
A quick jerk broke one of his legs free. It also threw Spike off balance, causing him to once again topple into the mud. With a sigh, Spike got up again, and he slowly shuffled his way to the edge of the puddle before breaking himself free of the goop’s cling.
Of course, he now looked like a complete mess. Spike dejectedly looked himself over, lamenting the calamity that had befallen his beautiful scales. This mud would not wash out easily. Bending down to pick some grime out between his claws, Spike almost did not notice the hurricane of pink liveliness bounding excitedly toward him.
“Hey, Spike!” Pinkie greeted him with a smile.
“Hi, Pinkie Pie,” Spike replied unhappily.
“Awww, what’s gotten you down?” Pinkie asked with a quizzical tilt of her head. “Did Saddle Arabia declare war on Equestria, and did Twilight send you to tell Mayor Mare that Ponyville needed to institute a draft, but you realized that if everypony went to off war, you would be left all alone here in Ponyville, since you’re not a pony and wouldn’t be a part of ‘everypony’? Well, I suppose Cranky and Matilda would still be here, since they’re not ponies either, but—”
No, it’s not that.” Spike cut Pinkie’s rambling’s short. “It’s just I thought I saw Rainbow Dash out here, but when I came out to talk to her she was gone, and then I fell in a puddle and got mud all over my scales. Some day it’s been.”
“Well, you know what would make you feel better?” Pinkie grinned at Spike.
“A party?” Spike deadpanned.
“A part—wait! I have an even better idea!” Pinkie Pie leapt into the air as an idea came to her. “You should take a seven-hour bubble bath to clean all that mud off! Then you would be able to get all that nasty gunk off and go back to looking like the dragon you are. I mean, you still look like a dragon, but you look more like a dragon-who’s-having-a-bad-day-and-needs-to-get-cleaned-up dragon than a dragon-who’s-lookin’-good-Spike-lookin’-real-good dragon.” With the conclusion of her exclamation, Pinkie’s hooves finally touched the ground again.
Spike’s eyes lit up. “You’re right, Pinkie! I think I will do that. Twilight doesn’t seem to be back yet anyway, so she won’t notice if I disappear for several hours to take a bath. This will be great!”
With that, Spike excitedly ran back up the stairs into the castle. As eager as he was, he never bothered to look back and say goodbye to Pinkie Pie. If he had, he would have noticed her put on a trench coat, pull out a bubble pipe, and slink off in the direction Rainbow Dash had gone.
Five hours later, Dash crept through the dark streets of Ponyville. Sure, she could have flown to Twilight’s castle, but other ponies would have been expecting that. Instead, she had to be sneaky, and so she found herself slinking down a road carrying a large box labeled “quills.”
Ahead, Dash saw that Pinkie Pie had already arrived at the castle. As arranged, Pinkie had brought a small cart for them to transport their prey. Why they had not used that cart to bring the box she was carrying was a mystery to Dash, but Pinkie had insisted on them arriving separately at the castle. She had said something about how if one of them was caught and turned to stone, the other might still have a chance to succeed.
So Dash continued to lug the crate down the street toward her target ahead. Once she had passed the last house before the castle, she took flight and sped toward one of the castle’s balconies. Hoping nopony had seen her, Rainbow Dash quickly set the box down and ducked behind the railing.
She hurriedly rummaged through the box, looking for the tools she had brought along to pick the lock on the balcony’s door. While it lacked the spectacular thrill of crashing through one of the windows at an appreciable Mach number, picking the lock would attract far less attention.
Dash spent the next few minutes examining the lock. Surely a princess would be safeguarded by the most subtly intricate and impenetrable defenses in the land. The lock appeared deceptively straightforward, no more complicated than any standard lock in Ponyville. But Dash was positive that treating it in such a naïve fashion would trigger some alarm that would alert Twilight to their presence.
“Hey Dashie, what’s taking so long?” whispered Pinkie next to her. Startled, Dash glanced behind her to see Pinkie standing directly behind her. Pinkie wore one of her black bodysuits in a rare effort to conceal herself and not stand out. Rainbow Dash noted that Pinkie Pie had silently managed to not only climb up the side of the castle, but also bring the cart up with her.
“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to stay by the front door with the cart,” Dash hissed.
“I got bored,” came the cheerful reply. “Hey, have you got the door open yet?” Pinkie reached a hoof out.
“No, I’m still figuring out the lock,” Dash replied.
Pinkie ignored her. She gave a slight push, and the door swung open. Dash tensed, expecting to hear a blaring siren erupt and give them away, but silence reigned for the next several seconds. Pinkie happily hopped inside, entirely unaware of the risk she had just taken.
Apparently Twilight did not bother to lock her doors.
Everything was going according to plan. The gentle sound of running water indicated that Spike was still taking his ridiculously long bath. Owlowiscious was nowhere to be heard, as was expected. Pinkie’s earlier reconnaissance had indicated that Fluttershy was giving the owl a check-up this evening, so the owl was spending the night at her cottage. As such, the two intruders remained unnoticed and unopposed as they crept through the castle hallways toward Twilight’s bedroom.
Still, Rainbow Dash felt uneasy. She nervously glanced around the empty hallways, expecting a wrathful princess to emerge at any second from the shadow of nearby a pillar. Even with slippers muffling the sounds of their hoof-falls, Dash was half convinced the faint echoing off the vaulted ceilings would wake Twilight. As she carefully stepped around a random book that haphazardly lay open on the floor in front of her, Dash almost wished something would happen. The ominous solitude of the castle was making her uneasy.
And Dash could not help but feel that somepony was watching her.
At last they reached Twilight’s bedroom. Although the door was closed, it too was unlocked. Rainbow Dash carefully opened the door as slowly as she could, taking care not to disturb the sleeping princess.
Twilight lay in bed peacefully, completely oblivious to the entry of two ponies who had come to kidnap her. The soft rhythm of her breathing was the only sound in the room. A stack of books was piled on the floor next to her bed, the top volume left open to where Twilight had been reading from it when she had fallen asleep. As expected, blue spots covered her horn, indicating that the poison joke had successfully robbed her of magic. It seemed that everything was working perfectly.
Dash snuck up to the side of the bed and set the crate down. She grabbed a couple of books from the top of the pile and gently placed them inside the box. Hopefully, these books would keep Twilight occupied during her captivity so she would not grow bored and seek to escape. Besides, they did not want to terribly inconvenience Twilight while they abducted her. Her comfort was one of their top priorities.
Pinkie Pie, meanwhile, popped out of the curtains on the other side of Twilight’s bed. Then she unceremoniously grabbed the sleeping pony and rolled her out of bed and into the open box.
“What…” Twilight mumbled sleepily as she landed on a pillow inside the crate. Her eyes started to flutter open.
“It’s nothing,” whispered Pinkie. “This is just a dream. Go back to sleep.”
“Oh, ok,” murmured Twilight. She curled up on the pillow, rested her head on a nearby book, and promptly fell back asleep.
Dash had not expected that to work.
Now all they had to do was carry Twilight outside and take her away without anypony noticing.
Rainbow Dash flew over to the box and cautiously lifted it, making sure to hold it level so as not to disturb the sleeping alicorn within. However, the added weight of the books threw off Dash’s balance, forcing her to flap frantically for a couple seconds as she strove to keep her balance. In doing so, Dash veered toward the wall, and her wing brushed against a mirror hanging there.
The mirror jiggled ever so slightly. Then Dash heard a faint click emanate from the wall. Puzzled, she looked toward the mirror.
For a few seconds, she just stared at her confused reflection, waiting for something to happen.
Dash frowned. She was positive she had heard something.
A sudden explosion caused the mirror to fly across the room and shatter against the far wall. Confetti rained down as Rainbow Dash narrowly dodged the unexpected projectile, but in the process she lost her grip on the box. It dropped and hit the floor with a resounding thump, the pony inside awaking with a startled yelp.
Dash had unwittingly triggered a party cannon that had been hidden behind the mirror.